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by Abigail Van Buren

Mother Wants to Right Daughter's Wrong Turn

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are concerned that his father may be in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. He's doing childish things like biting my daughter (only with his upper dentures, not his lower ones), hitting her, and getting mad when she "tattles" on him.

He can no longer remember simple things and even forgot to take my daughter to school one day. My mother-in-law keeps putting off talking to him, and says she'll do it "after the holidays," "after his birthday," then "after Father's Day" -- you get the picture.

We are worried that he will become worse and there will never be "a better time" to tell him. I want to talk to my father-in-law myself, but my husband thinks his mother should do it.

I don't want my 4-year-old to think it's OK to bite and hit, or that this is appropriate behavior for her to copy in preschool. -- TROUBLED IN KENTUCKY

DEAR TROUBLED: There are other dementias in addition to Alzheimer's. Your father-in-law should be scheduled immediately for a complete physical and neurological evaluation. Tell the doctor what you have told me. His behavior with your little girl is inappropriate, and if he is so impaired that he forgot to take her to school, he should not be behind the wheel of a car.

Please do not allow this to continue. Your first obligation must be the physical and emotional well-being of your daughter.